People with mental illness had a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than people without mental illness, according to an international meta-analysis of studies conducted between December 2019 and July 2020. Patients with schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorders had the highest risk of COVID-19 mortality, according to the report. The findings were published Tuesday in JAMA Psychiatry.
“Patients with mental health disorders can have multiple comorbidities that have been identified as risk factors for severe COVID-19: diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive respiratory disease, and end-stage kidney disease,” wrote Guillaume Fond, M.D., Ph.D., of Aix-Marseille University in France and colleagues. “Mental health disorders are also associated with socioeconomic deprivation and reduced access to care, two important factors of poor COVID-19 outcomes.”
Fond and colleagues analyzed data from 16 population-based studies across seven countries (Denmark, France, Israel, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States). These studies included 19,086 patients with a wide range of mental disorders, including mood disorders, alcohol use disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and bipolar disorders, among others.
The meta-analysis revealed that patients with any mental disorders had a 1.38 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than did people without mental disorders. Those with schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorders had a 1.67 times greater risk of COVID mortality; this may be related to genetic variations in patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder that compromise their immune function, Fond and colleagues wrote.
The findings point to the importance of “requiring enhanced preventive and disease management strategies for people with mental illness,” the authors concluded. “Future studies should evaluate the risk [of COVID-19] for each mental health disorder and confirm that patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders are at the highest risk of mortality.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “COVID-19 Greatly Increases Mortality Risk for Schizophrenia Patients, Research Shows.”